The final weekend of the 2023 regular season is behind us as Week 13 is done and just one conference game remains, with the Big 12 Championship on Saturday.
After Texas (11-1, 8-1) and Oklahoma State (9-3, 7-2), a total of nine Big 12 teams will head to bowl games across the country, while five teams from the conference are now done for the year.
This was one of the wildest Big 12 races in conference history, and while that will be the main topic of the weekend, it is time to start peeking ahead at Bowl Season.
So, how will the Big 12 pan out when it comes to bowl games? Here’s how things project heading into Championship Week.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl (New Year’s Six)
Texas (12-1) vs. Missouri (10-2)
After Florida State was able to come back and take down Florida in Gainsville in Week 13, there’s an issue with Texas’ path to the College Football Playoff. As of Monday, the Longhorns are ranked behind Florida State and Pac-12 contenders. They’ll need some help from the teams ahead of them, so this week, they’re projected to the Cotton Bowl against the Missouri Tigers.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Oklahoma (10-2) vs. USC (7-5)
Oklahoma was also hurt by FSU’s comeback, as Louisville is almost all but guaranteed a spot in the Orange Bowl, thanks to conference tie-ins. That takes a New Year’s Six appearance away from either Missouri, Penn State, Ole Miss, or Oklahoma, and unfortunately, the Sooners are the lowest-ranked of that group. That lands OU in the Alamo Bowl, and instead of the mainstream projection of Arizona, I think the Alamo Bowl folks won’t pass up the opportunity to get Oklahoma and USC on the same field
Oklahoma State (9-4) vs. Notre Dame (9-3)
The Big 12 runner-up lands in Orlando (Fla.) for the Pop-Tarts Bowl, where they draw an awesome matchup against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Playing ND for the second time in three seasons is a pretty awesome coincidence for the Pokes, who hadn’t faced them prior to the conclusion of the 2021 season.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Iowa State (7-5) vs. SMU (10-3)
After taking down Kansas State in one of the most fantastic Farmageddons ever, the Iowa State Cyclones jump K-State in bowl priority and land in the Liberty Bowl. Instead of facing an SEC team, which is the traditional pick here, the ‘Clones get the SMU Mustangs, who will be the runner-up from the AAC.
TaxAct Texas Bowl
Kansas State (8-4) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)
This bowl matchup is probably the one I am most confident in, as K-State and Texas A&M have been projected to play one another in the Texas Bowl for quite some time. Now, coming off losses in Week 13, it seems as if the Wildcats and Aggies are on a collision course.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
West Virginia (8-4) vs. Air Force (8-4)
Neal Brown got his team to 8-4 after being picked to finish dead last in the Big 12, and now he’ll have a chance to finish 9-4 on the year, which would be massive. The Mountaineers draw Air Force in my latest projections, which will put two of the best rushing teams in the nation against one another in Fort Worth.
Guaranteed Rate Bowl
Kansas (8-4) vs. Northwestern (7-5)
Kansas moved to 8-4 on the year with a big win over Cincinnati in Week 13, and now they’ll have a chance to make it a nine-win season. They land in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against a Big Ten foe, which I project will be Northwestern, who turned things around in a big way to get to 7-5.
Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl
Texas Tech (6-6) vs. California (6-6)
Texas Tech went to Austin and got demolished, but at 6-6 they can still get to a winning season with a win in their bowl game. However, it’ll be a tough ask as they’ll draw a Cal team that just beat UCLA 33-7 to get to bowl eligibility. Landing in the Independence Bowl should help though, being in Shreveport, Louisiana, where Red Raider fans can travel well.
UCF (6-6) vs. USF (6-6)
The bowl game has changed, but the matchup hasn’t, as I think we’ll get a bowl edition of “War on I-4” between UCF and USF. The Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa Bay is a perfect place to host this game, and both teams will be able to travel extremely well to fill up this stadium in a big way.